The World Hearts Obama’s Foreign PolicyJune 15, 2008
I was staying up late watching CNN tonight (yea, nice way to spend a Saturday night, but oh well), and I saw them mention this latest Pew Research Center survey of 24,000 people in 24 countries. Unsurprisingly (to me, anyway), the majority of the international population polled had more confidence in Obama as the next president of the US than McCain:
Next American President
The survey also finds a widespread belief that U.S. foreign policy “will change for the better” after the inauguration of a new American president next year. Among people who have been following the election, large majorities in France (68%), Spain (67%) and Germany (64%) say that they believe that U.S. foreign policy will improve after the election. This sentiment is also common in the African countries included in the survey — Nigeria (67%), South Africa (66%) and Tanzania (65%).
Yet this belief is far from universal. In Jordan and Egypt, more people who are following the election say they expect new leadership to change U.S. foreign policy for the worse than say they expect a change for the better. Two-thirds of the Japanese (67%) who are following the election say it will not bring about much change in U.S. foreign policy. That is the plurality opinion in Russia and Turkey as well.
There is considerable interest in the presidential campaign in the surveyed countries. A large majority of Japanese say they are following the election very closely (24%) or somewhat closely (59%). As a point of comparison, a third of Americans are following the election very closely, with another 47% saying they are tracking the campaign somewhat closely.
At least half or more of respondents in such countries as Germany, Australia, Great Britain and Jordan are closely following the election. There is less interest in the election in many other countries, including France, where 40% are focusing on the campaign, Mexico (33%) and Spain (25%).
People around the world who have been paying attention to the American election express more confidence in Barack Obama than in John McCain to do the right thing regarding world affairs. McCain is rated lower than Obama in every country surveyed, except for the United States where his rating matches Obama’s, as well as in Jordan and Pakistan where few people have confidence in either candidate.
Obama’s advantage over McCain is overwhelming in the Western European countries surveyed: Fully 84% of the French who have been following the election say they have confidence in Obama to do the right thing regarding world affairs, compared with 33% who say that about McCain. The differences in ratings for Obama and McCain are about as large in Spain and Germany, and are only somewhat narrower in Great Britain.